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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lessons in Breastfeeding

It's National Breastfeeding Week! I don't know why I put an exclamation point there because I think it's a little silly. But in the spirit of all things boobie, I'm posting my own story.

I'm kind of glad that Avery was horrible at nursing because if I only went by my experience with Landon, I would be completely unsympathetic to moms who give up breastfeeding early. And now that Landon is completely weaned, I wanted to share my breastfeeding experiences for my mom friends. We are in this together, after all. Also, if you are a guy or my sister, you may want to just stop here. You won't hurt my feelings if you do. You might regret it if you don't.

I was determined to breastfeed Avery. My goal was 6 months. I got a super awesome pump and just knew I'd be able to pump at school (I was still teaching) and breastfeed at home without any problems. How hard could it be, right? But. Avery had a terrible latch. I made the mistake of accepting the nipple shield at the hospital, which they used to help supplement with formula since my milk was slow to come in. Now I know that it just takes a little bit longer than one day and it was totally unnecessary. Live and learn..

Matt was awesome and so supportive when we got home. He would help wash nipple shields, bring the little formula samples when it seems like she wasn't getting enough, and just sit with me while I nursed. And boy did we sit. She would take 45 minutes on EACH SIDE and want to eat every 2 hours. According to that math, I only had 30 minutes every two hours that I wasn't feeding her. Granted, she slept really well at night, so that was nice, but day times were hard. Plus, with the nipple shield, it was hard to maneuver everything, so whenever we had company (which was often), I was banished to the bedroom. I was so bored and lonely; it was miserable and I wondered why I wasn't LOVING being a mom like everybody said I should.

When school started I was given 2nd period off, so I would pump right when I got up (pumping on one side while she ate on the other), during 2nd, during lunch, and after school (quickly so I could pick up Avery from day care in time). It just wasn't often enough to keep up the supply, which wasn't great to begin with.

I was exhausted from trying so hard, and I was absolutely miserable trying to keep up with it. After crying way too many tears of frustration, my mom and Matt finally convinced me to just switch to formula and stop killing myself over it. It was the best decision I could've made. It was just a relief to not have to worry about it anymore, you know?

Fast forward to Landon, and I was determined to try again. I was staying home at this point, so pumping wasn't as much of a necessity, but money was so tight that we didn't really have an option. I was so thankful that he latched on perfectly from day one. It was a completely different experience from Avery. I kept thinking that I was doing something wrong because it was just SO EASY. I think I saw a lactation consultant once and that was only for her to tell me that I didn't need to see her again because everything was great.

We never had to supplement with formula, and we just finished nursing at 13 months. The difference between both kids was night and day. It really was so much easier with Landon. Plus, we had no bottles to wash (except for the times when were apart and someone else had to feed him), and I never had to worry about packing bottles when we went out. The only setback I had with Landon was that I got a mild case of mastitis, which sucked, but we got through it.

I don't know if the difference was just a matter of individual kids, more confidence on my part, better equipped nipples the second time around (haha!), or not having to pump during the day. All I know is that I don't regret my decisions with either kid. They are both healthy and thriving, and I had to make decisions based on the individual situations.

Do I think all moms should at least try breastfeeding? Sure, why not? It's free, there are lots of health benefits, and in many cases it's the most convenient.

Do I think moms who don't breastfeed are doing a disservice to their babies? No way. And it's ridiculous to even suggest that they are.

Moms have enough pressure on them as it is. It's pointless to try to make other women feel inferior because they don't fit the mold of the "perfect mom" (which, by the way, does not exist). Figure out what works for your family and then be confident in that decision. I'd better stop myself before I start preaching.

In conclusion:
Power to the boobie. Or the bottle. Feed your children. The end.


Anonymous said...

I breastfed tenley for her first year and loved every min of it! I Was surprised at how easy it was since everyone made it out to be horrible. I had to use the shield at first and found it great because I didn't have sore nipples :) I then eventually went without it and they never got sore. Nate and I went to the breastfeeding class and that literally was what got us through the tough parts, Nathan remembered everything we were taught which was good because tenley had a hard time latching on at first also and he had the idea to drip water on my boob to get her to latch on and it totally worked! I pumped at school 2 times a day and in the morning and night for a year. I know you don't want to hear my story but I just thought it was cool with some of the similarities in our stories. The hard thing for me was that when most women lose weight when breastfeeding, I was the exception, I weighed the same from the time I left the hospital until I finished breastfeeding a year later, I lost 20 pounds in the 2 weeks after finishing breastfeeding, it was crazy! I will breastfeed my future children, I do believe it is the BEST thing for my children, it may be hard but it's worth it in the end :)


Brooklynn said...

Hahaha. You are just such a great writer! I love this post, maybe because it relates to me so much right now. And, I couldn't have said it better myself.

Btw, we are done with the nipple shield! That lasted a whole three days. Yay!

charity said...

You have no idea how much this relates to me right now! The hubs and I had a 20 minute conversation (yes, a phone call to Africa) yesterday on this very topic. :-/ Thanks for posting your experience. It's encouraging!

April @ said...

I didn't have the easiest beginning with breastfeeding, but I breastfed for a year and it was one of the best memories I have. I'm part of the "feed your baby" movement. It's awesome. It's about feeding your baby. Boob or bottle. As long as they are fed. :)

I will say this about breastfeeding -- someone told me before Belle was born that one successful breastfeeding mom needed 4 breastfeeding support women behind her. Support and education are the two biggest factors in nursing. Even if you find that you can't nurse -- having the support and education behind you will help you to feel like you are making the best choices, even if that means formula feeding. I didn't panic about nursing because I knew what to expect. It made it a lot easier!